August 14th Was SeVWA’s Fifth, and Next-to-Last, River Monitoring Day for the 2013 Season

Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance’s (SeVWA’s) water quality monitoring program was begun about 10 years ago. At that time, the organization was known as West River Watershed Alliance (WRWA). In 2013 there are 24 river and stream sites that SeVWA is monitoring and those sites are in the West River and Williams River watersheds and along the Saxtons River and Whetstone Brook.  21 volunteers sample at those sites every 2 weeks during the summer, with 7 additional volunteers filling-in for the “regulars” on occasional days during the
monitoring season. This summer the river monitoring program began on Wednesday, June 19th. This past Wednesday was SeVWA’s fifth, and next-to-last, 2013 river sampling day. There will be one last 2013 sampling date on August 28th.

The couple of weeks prior to the Aug. 14th sampling date were generally dry and very pleasant summer-weather days. We did have significant rainfalls 24-48 hours before sampling this past Wednesday AM – though Wednesday AM was sunny to partly cloudy, and a beautiful morning.  The significant rainfall that we had just prior to sampling this week had an impact on our samples’ E. coli (Escherichia coli) results. Please see the accompanying charts for the complete results details. One chart lists the West River watershed and Whetstone Brook sites’ E. coli results and the second chart presents the Williams River and Saxtons River sites’ results.

Please post the attached E. coli results charts in your communities where folks will see them. If you have a local news publication also submit the chart and this commentary to them for posting/publishing and
provide to your town’s conservation commission or planning department.

Most of the E. coli results from Wednesday’s monitoring sites are well-above the Vermont
and EPA standard for swimming suitability – which is 235 E. coli per 100 milliliters of water. Please see the paragraphs below for information about the VT standard for E. coli numbers in swimming waters and also see the accompanying charts.

The elevated E. coli results for most of Wednesday’s samples could be due to the significant rainfall that we had during hours prior to our sampling on various rivers. The results indicate that E. coli is probably entering the streams in run-off and other sources (such as faulty septic systems) from the surrounding terrain during significant rainfalls. A general recommendation is that it is prudent to wait 24-48 hours after a significant rain event to swim in the effected waters. The E. coli in the water may not directly cause an illness after swimming, but its presence indicates that there is
probable fecal contamination of the water by warm blooded animals. Swimming in water with an E. coli level greater than 235 per 100 milliliters of water puts you at a higher probable risk to develop some sort of waterborne illness.

SeVWA’s water quality monitoring program’s E. coli results will be available every 2 weeks, typically by the Friday following the Wednesday sampling session. The last remaining 2013 sampling date is August 28.

SeVWA’s water quality monitoring program is supported by SeVWA volunteers, members and donors, including Chroma Technology Group, Village Square Booksellers, Rock River Preservation, State of
VT Department of Environmental Conservation’s LaRosa Environmental Testing Laboratory, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters & Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC).

E. coli results charts and accompanying commentaries will appear at (Nature section) every 2 weeks through the monitoring season. For more information about SeVWA’s monitoring program sites and results and other Connecticut River watershed water quality and recreational information, please visit

information is provided by Ryan O’Donnell, summer intern and Laurie Callahan, SeVWA WQMP Committee –  SeVWA Water Quality Monitoring Program (

SeVWA website –

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